Last summer, a soon to be bride brought me a dress that had been worn by both her grandmother and great aunt. She was hoping to continue the family tradition and wear it again. It was yellowed and desperately needed cleaning. It fit her fairly well, but needed significant restyling. She showed me a picture of a dress she liked as a possible model for the makeover. I agreed to give it a go.
Since I knew she wanted the sleeves removed, I did a laundry test run on one of them. The silk damask cleaned up beautifully. It soaked for 12 hours in a gentle but effective cleaning solution, and after an extra gentle wash and double rinse it was air dried outdoors.
I modernized the shape of the poufy, open at the top darts. We decided to leave the original neck drape in place and I used the sleeves ends to face the armholes. A couple of the buttons on the back were missing, and several had rust stains on them. I used buttons from the sleeves as replacements, restitched every button, and reinforced the button looping from behind, as these buttons were the real deal- no hidden zipper tucked underneath them!
The dress has a very long train, and a piece of it had been clumsily removed to enlarge the bodice for her grandmother. I reshaped the train and rehemmed the remainder of the dress. I added a deep ruffle from her mother's dress to the petticoat she wore underneath it to add fullness.